John James announces 2020 Senate run in Michigan

Republican John James announced Thursday he will challenge Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersFBI Agents Association calls on Congress to make 'domestic terrorism' a federal crime Senators renew request for domestic threats documents from FBI, DOJ after shootings Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (D-Mich.) in 2020.

“We are heading in the wrong direction as a country and our leaders in Washington are failing to lead us toward a better and brighter future. I believe I can help lead Michigan toward that future we deserve, and that’s why I am running for US Senate,” James tweeted.

James, a 37-year-old Army veteran and businessman, ran to unseat Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowUSDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency USDA office move may have broken law, watchdog says Senate Democrats see Warren, Sanders proposals as unfeasible MORE (D-Mich.) last year but fell short by 6 1/2 points. He did, however, win the most votes of any Republican at the top of the ticket in Michigan in the last decade, according to The Detroit News.

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He touted his military and business experience during an appearance on Fox News Thursday morning, saying he is willing to “stand up for this country.”

“I understand what we need to do, because I have experience as a business leader, as a job creator, how to protect our economy from socialism, how to bring people together and unite people to make sure that we can defeat the evils that face us today,” James said. 

“I also, as a combat veteran, understand the service and sacrifice that our veterans make every single day and [am] willing to stand up for this country, not any party, not any ideology.”

James said in an email to supporters he would spend the coming months continuing “to run my family business and raise my family” and that an official campaign kickoff will take place “early next year.” 

The Michigan Republican is known to be well-liked by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE, who has called him a “rising star,” endorsed his last Senate bid and mulled tapping him as United Nations ambassador earlier this year.

The GOP is keen to rebuild momentum in Michigan, a crucial swing state that Trump narrowly won in 2016 but where Republicans faced setbacks in statewide races in 2018.

Peters, a one-term incumbent who served for a decade in the U.S. Navy Reserve, is one of two Senate Democrats, along with Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), running for reelection in states Trump took in 2016.

Peters has ramped up his fundraising efforts, releasing a memo this week touting a haul of $1.9 million in 2019’s first quarter, adding that his campaign has $3 million in cash on hand.

“Gary is starting this cycle with the record and the resources to take on any Republican challenger who emerges, and he is prepared to not only win re-election but also continue serving Michigan effectively for another six years in the U.S. Senate,” the memo said.

Peters went on to slam James specifically in the memo, which came out before Thursday’s announcement, noting that he lost counties in 2018 that Peters had won in a Republican-friendly environment in 2014. 

He was statistically tied with James in a March Emerson College poll, though Michigan’s Senate seat is rated “likely D” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.